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Miesha Tate: Amanda Nunes could be ‘huge problem' if Ronda Rousey returns with ‘half-ass mentality'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Neither Miesha Tate nor Holly Holm elected to wait for the return of Ronda Rousey during their brief reigns as UFC bantamweight champion. However, Amanda Nunes appears to be bucking the trend. Nunes, who captured the belt with a first-round victory over Tate at UFC 200, told Brazilian outlet Combate last week that Rousey "has to be" her first title defense and indicated that she would wait for Rousey if the UFC guaranteed the fight would happen.

Appearing Monday on The MMA Hour, Tate said she understood the stance Nunes was choosing to take, but that it isn't how she would attack the situation if she was in Nunes' shoes.

"I think, my personal opinion, as the champion you don't wait for people, you step up when you should," Tate said on The MMA Hour. "You should stay busy and do whatever, but it's her choice, it's her life, and she's probably being advised to wait. And I can't blame the girl. It's going to be a big fight, it'll be a big money fight. Financially, career-wise, it probably makes sense from a political side to wait.

"But you've got to balance that out, like, what are you in it for? Are you in it for the money or are you in it for doing ‘the smart thing' or are you passionate, driven, and you want to do what the ‘fighter' would do. So, it's not wrong either way. It's just personally, what I think, is to stay busy and prove that you're the champion, why you're the champion."

The UFC women's bantamweight division has hit somewhat of a standstill since Nunes dethroned Tate in dominant fashion in July, with top contenders Julianna Pena and Valentina Shevchenko calling for Nunes to defend the belt while whispers of Rousey's inevitable return continue to swirl. An actual target date for Rousey's return remains in limbo, although Nunes indicated she is hoping to defend her belt on Dec. 30 at UFC 207 in Las Vegas, NV.

Regardless of when Rousey does return, it would mark the end of a withdrawal from public life that Rousey has undergone since her stunning Nov. 2015 knockout loss to Holm. And considering all of that time away from mixed martial arts, Tate isn't sure which version of Rousey would ultimately show up to fight Nunes.

"I feel like there's so many weird variables, it's really, really hard to say, because who knows what we're going to get out of Ronda when she comes back," Tate said. "If we're getting Ronda at the best that she's ever been, then I'd say Ronda (would win the fight). But if we're getting Ronda coming back with a half-ass mentality, kind of like ‘I just feel like I have to do this one time,' and then she's got a lot of ring rust and maybe she's still punch-shy since she hasn't fought since Holly, and we all saw that obviously Amanda has incredible power with her right hand -- so if she hits Ronda with one of those, I could see it being a huge problem for Ronda. A big, big problem.

"So it's kind of hard to say, honestly. I really just don't know what we're going to get with Ronda. I know what we're going to get with Amanda. I just have no idea what we're going to get with Ronda."

There is no doubt that many questions continue to surround Rousey, who over the course of a year went from one of the world's most celebrated athletes to one of the biggest unknowns in the fight game.

The fall from grace is one that very few people could have seen coming considering the unprecedented success of Rousey's pre-UFC 193 campaign, and although Tate can sympathize which much of what Rousey is going through, she can't quite relate because she has handled her own tough losses in an entirely different manner.

"I understand that it can be a lot," Tate said. "And it can overwhelming and it can be challenging, and there's days that I have when I'm like, ‘you know what, I don't want to put up with this anymore.' Like, ‘I'm tried of people talking crap on my social media, I'm tired of this, I'm tired of that. I don't want to deal with this anymore. I'm done with it.' And then I'm like, no, my heart still just is in it. Like, I cannot bring myself to walk away.

"But, I can't speak for Ronda. I just think that she's probably fed up with a lot of different things and she's chosen to go a different route than I would choose to go. She's just different in the way she wants to handle it, so we know that clearly, we're obviously very different. That's why we butt heads."